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Maple Leafs defeat Red Wings, salute fans

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to cure their ills with a win at home that they shared with their fans.

Tyler Bozak scored twice to help the Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 at Air Canada Center on Saturday.

"They were really big points. We're chasing them," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "To stay composed and to stay the course of our system and to stay disciplined to the way that we wanted to play, we did a lot of really good things and we have to build on them. We talked about building blocks and about building consistency and tonight was a step in the right direction again."

The Maple Leafs (11-8-2) saluted their fans afterward after not doing so following a 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

"That was something we talked about in our room," Phaneuf said. "We did not want to disrespect our fans at all. We know how much support we have and that's our new thing now. We wanted to change it up and that's what we're doing now."

Bozak scored a shorthanded goal 3:44 into the third period when he poked the puck away from Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall and raced in against goalie Jimmy Howard on a breakaway. Bozak lifted the puck on the backhand over Howard's glove hand for a 2-1 lead.

Bozak made it 4-1 with an empty-net goal, his eighth of the season, with 1:47 left.

"For the first goal, I just caught a nice break to get a breakaway and luckily it went in, and obviously the last one was an empty-netter," Bozak said. "It was nice to get those two goals, and [Peter Holland] scored a huge goal for us to give us a two-goal lead late in the third."

Holland made it 3-1 with his fifth goal of the season with 4:22 left. He stole the puck from Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, took it all the way in on Howard, and snapped a wrist shot to the blocker side.

"Just trying to put my leg out there to protect the puck and get to the net," Holland said. "I kind of noticed out of the corner of my eye he dropped a little bit, so I definitely wanted to get it on net. Try and get it up as well."

The Maple Leafs scored three times in the third period. After two periods, Detroit (10-5-5) led in shots 22-18; Toronto ended the game with a 28-27 advantage.

"I thought we sat back a bit in the second and stopped forechecking," Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier said. "But [before] the third, in the room, we just said, 'Let's play the way we did in the first and give it to them.'"

Bernier made 25 saves for Toronto, which won its second in a row since a 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

"Obviously it feels good," Bernier said. "We're battling against [Detroit] in the standings and, for us, we wanted to come out here and show them we could play against a good team."

Leo Komarov gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead Saturday with his second goal of the season. Komarov picked up a loose puck from Mike Santorelli and skated in against Howard. Komarov's shot went off defenseman Jonathan Ericsson past Howard with 8:21 left in the first period.

"Leo does a lot of things away from the puck, plays extremely hard night in and night out, and he's a huge part of our team also," Phaneuf said. "To see him get rewarded by getting the puck to the net and making a really good play, that got us going. It got us going as a team. We wanted to start well and he did a good job of getting us started."

Detroit's Tomas Tatar tied the game 1-1 with 9:32 left in the second period with his ninth goal of the season. Tatar one-timed a pass across the attacking zone from Xavier Ouellet past Bernier. Tatar's goal was his fifth, and seventh point, in the past five games.

"They were good again," Howard said of Tatar's line with Riley Sheahan and Justin Abdelkader. "They did a good job just funneling pucks to the net. We've got to have [Tatar] to remain hot the rest [of the way]. We need that secondary scoring. [Tatar] gets open and [Abdelkader] and [Sheahan] go to work for him."

It was the first NHL point for Ouelett, a defenseman playing his sixth game.

"He's a good hockey player," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He's smart. You add it all together, and you say, 'Jeez, I don't know how big he is, I don't how great he skates,' but he knows how to play. He looks like a veteran."

Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak sustained a lower-body injury after he delivered a check on Tatar before he scored and did not return. Polak's left ankle was caught underneath Tatar as he went down to the ice; he was helped off by teammates.

"Polak will have an MRI [Sunday] on a lower-body injury and we'll have an update for you on Monday," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's serious enough he'll be out for a while."

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